62 saves for Smith as Wildcats edge Crunch in 2OT

COCHRANE – Elliot Lake Wildcats netminder A.J. Smith turned in a solid 62-save performance to backstop his side to a 4-3 victory in double overtime over the Cochrane Crunch Thursday evening in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League encounter at the Tim Horton Event Centre.

It was a great start for the visitors as Elliot’s Lake’s Phill Cloutier put his club up one 63 seconds after the opening face-off.

The Wildcats then extended their cushion 10 minutes later when Cole Hepler buried his team-leading 11th goal of the season.

Cochrane got back in it in the opening shift of the middle frame as Cody Gratton connected 22 seconds of the second.

The Wildcats went back up two at 1:44 of the stanza courtesy of a Shane Woolsey man advantage effort.

Answering back, the Crunch pulled to within one before the session was complete when Josh Racek struck on the power play at 17:48.

Up a man the home side drew even early in the third when Aaron Carmichael found the mark at 1:38 to set the stage for extra time.

The first OT solved nothing so, with the teams skating three aside, Alec MacKenzie won it for Elliot Lake as he beat Cochrane’s Troy Paquette for the winner on the Wildcats 47th and final shot of the night at 1:21.

Spencer MacLean dished out two assists to aid in the Elliot Lake triumph.

The victory for Smith, who turns 20 Saturday, was his seventh of the season putting the him into a tie for the most in the league with Sault Ste. Marie’s Brian Kment and Mario Culina.

With the decision the Wildcats raised their record to 12-4 and the Crunch slipped to 12-6-0-1 in earning a point.

NOJHL action continues Friday as the Crunch host the Soo Thunderbirds, Abitibi takes on Elliot Lake at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex in Timmins while Powassan is at home to Mattawa in a trio of 7:30 p.m. starts.